monitor Sub or just larger monitor speakers?

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monitor Sub or just larger monitor speakers?

Postby JestersOfTheMoon » January 20th, 2014, 1:22 pm

Hey folks,

So I was planning on buying a pair of monitor speakers finally, and was thinking about the krk rokit 5's. However, being that they're smaller speakers their freq. range only goes as low as 45 Hz. (which I'm pretty skeptical that these things can produce 45 Hz accurately, being so small).

So then I thought I'd buy a separate active subwoofer to accommodate the low end. The prices on most of these I've seen are far higher than a brand new pair of Rokit 5's.

So my question to you is, would I just be better off buy larger monitor speakers, say, a pair of 8" Rokits maybe, instead of buying a separate sub? I would like to not spend too much money but still I would like to be able to hear the low end in my recordings.

Thanks in advance!
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Re: monitor Sub or just larger monitor speakers?

Postby MASSIVE Mastering » January 20th, 2014, 6:16 pm

Running a sub opens up so many opportunities for sonic chaos that I'd try to avoid it at all costs. Go with the 8's.
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Re: monitor Sub or just larger monitor speakers?

Postby Graeme » January 21st, 2014, 6:51 am

I'm with Massive on this - forget about subs and stick with tried and tested two-box monitoring.

After all, how many end-listeners will have them?
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Re: monitor Sub or just larger monitor speakers?

Postby Big Tim » January 21st, 2014, 7:58 am

Graeme wrote:After all, how many end-listeners will have them?
A surprising number of cars have them - I was surprised to find my Mazda 6 had a sub in the boot even though the sound system isn't particulalry fancy. Also, a lot of computer speaker systems come with subs, and of course if you're trying to get played in clubs there could be an impact.

But you're absolutely right, the majority of the listeners will be using earbuds, docks or, worse, laptop speakers.
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Re: monitor Sub or just larger monitor speakers?

Postby JestersOfTheMoon » January 21st, 2014, 9:22 am

Cool, thanks guys!

I am surprised to find that not all 8's have a good low end. In fact some 5's tote a lower frequency response than some of the 8's I'm looking at... Guess it's time to read up on some studio speaker articles!

I should also mention that I won't be doing any club type music or any other bass-intensive music, I just thought it'd be beneficial to hear the real low end so that I can shape the sonic image more precisely
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Re: monitor Sub or just larger monitor speakers?

Postby J-Bot » January 21st, 2014, 3:57 pm

Rule #1 of choosing speakers: frequency response charts need to be taken with a grain of salt.
If you have the option and can find a place that sells 'em locally and are able to listen to them in person, or ask if you can take them home to demo them, then go that route.
Since you have the Rokit 5's, moving up to the 8's probably wouldn't be a totally blind purchase, and is probably a logical step up, but it's probably still good to try to hear them in person if you can.

Since you're looking for a deeper low end, take along some work you've done as well as some commercial CDs that have audio information in that end, and try listening to it on various speakers to hear which ones are able to reproduce the audio without turning it into subsonic mud. At that low end (sub-40hz) If you can hear the individual notes clearly, and they don't sound like a vague rumble/boom/all the same note then they're probably doing a decent job.

Though, I know getting to hear the speakers in person before purchasing is not always an option. (though, I have heard of some people taking a 3-hour or more road trip to go to a place to hear them in person)

But yeah, read articles, reviews of all types, SOS is usually a good place to start as are buyer reviews/comments on vendor sites. What matters is if they do the job you need them to do, and they work well within your room. I didn't have an option to go out and listen to various nearfields back when I got my Tannoys. (nobody in my area carried anything like that) so I spent months reading and weighing pros/cons, reviews, buyer impressions, etc. before I finally pulled the trigger. (for the record, I got the Reveal 6 passives, which are a 6-inch cone, soft dome tweeter, and according to the chart, start to roll off below 60hz, but the bass response sounds decent to me)

I agree with everyone else on avoiding bringing in a sub if you can. IMO it just adds more complication to the monitoring setup, plus finding the ideal place to set the sub within the room can be challenging. (I think RealTraps/Ethan Winer had an article on that somewhere) Now, if you were designing sound effects (explosions, rumbles, earthquakes, low frequency noise that is not music related, etc.) say for a film or a video game, a sub might be very useful.
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Re: monitor Sub or just larger monitor speakers?

Postby JestersOfTheMoon » January 21st, 2014, 4:54 pm

J-Bot wrote: At that low end (sub-40hz) If you can hear the individual notes clearly, and they don't sound like a vague rumble/boom/all the same note then they're probably doing a decent job..


Wow, thanks J-Bot for such a comprehensive answer! you've given me some food for though. I think I will go with the Rokit 8's or something similar. I may try to take a ride over to my somewhat local Guitar Center to see if they have a pair hooked up I can listen to.

Thanks again!
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Re: monitor Sub or just larger monitor speakers?

Postby Graeme » January 21st, 2014, 5:25 pm

Big Tim wrote:
Graeme wrote:After all, how many end-listeners will have them?
A surprising number of cars have them ....... Also, a lot of computer speaker systems come with subs


I take the point about clubs, but nobody in their right mind would use a car or computer speakers for serious listening.

More to the point - and this is where Massive was coming from - most systems that do have subs are incredibly badly balanced and actually worsen your mixes.
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Re: monitor Sub or just larger monitor speakers?

Postby Big Tim » January 21st, 2014, 6:21 pm

Graeme wrote:
Big Tim wrote:
Graeme wrote:After all, how many end-listeners will have them?
A surprising number of cars have them ....... Also, a lot of computer speaker systems come with subs
I take the point about clubs, but nobody in their right mind would use a car or computer speakers for serious listening.
Well no, I was just making the point that from a lister's perspective, there are a fair number of situations where the low end can be reproduced with a sub. This doesn't automatically mean you have to mix with a sub, or that your mixes will sound any better or worse with or without a sub, just that it's a bit of a generalisation to say no-one will ever listen to your mix on a system with a sub. There's plenty of situations where a sub could or would be used by the listener, and if your music has a particular emphasis on the low end (and EDM etc is a prime example of that) then mixing with a sub might be beneficial in order to get the low end right for those environments.

As it happens, the OP isn't doing EDM (or similar) so the point is somewhat moot, but I think it's always dangerous to make assumptions about how & where your music will be consumed. Not everyone has a high end stereo for casual listening, and likewise not everyone listens on earbuds. My car stereo, sh*t though it is in general, does make the low end known with its sub and it's good fun to listen to stuff that's quite bassy in there. I wouldn't use it for critical listening but I sure as hell want stuff to sound good in there.

Edit: And actually in this day and age people do listen an awful lot on computer speakers, TV speakers (possibly 5.1 setups) and car stereos. It's the decent home stereos that are on the decline thanks to iPod docks and home media centres built around consoles or PCs, bluetooth and iPod connections in cars etc. I'd wager that more people listen to mp3's on portable devices or computers than any other delivery format these days. I would agree that it's not necessarily *serious* listening, but it's how most music is consumed.
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Re: monitor Sub or just larger monitor speakers?

Postby Graeme » January 21st, 2014, 6:31 pm

Big Tim wrote:I think it's always dangerous to make assumptions about how & where your music will be consumed.


I couldn't agree more. As an engineer, it was always my objective to make it sound as good as possible on a decent set of monitors (without a sub) in the studio. By doing this, you're pretty much guaranteed to end up with a mix that will translate well to any system likely to used by the listener. It was certainly the case that nobody would be thinking "what will this be heard on?"

Of course, the difference here is that I was blessed with having professional commercial studios (well, usually) in which to do this stuff, not my bedroom. Also, users were not using compressed files, such as MP3, that were going to screw your mix before you started. On that basis, I could rightly be accused of having a bias, but I do think that professional techniques can still be applied in a less than ideal location.
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Re: monitor Sub or just larger monitor speakers?

Postby Farview » January 22nd, 2014, 6:37 am

I think mixing through subs can open a giant can of worms. It can work well, but only if the sub is placed properly and calibrated well. Without specialized tools, specialized knowledge, and probably some knowledge of room design, it is too easy to create a less than ideal result.

I would get monitors that will do the low end and leave it at that. I've been using Genelec 1031's with 8 inch speakers and I get plent of lows to mix with.
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Re: monitor Sub or just larger monitor speakers?

Postby JestersOfTheMoon » January 22nd, 2014, 9:58 am

Farview wrote: I would get monitors that will do the low end and leave it at that. I've been using Genelec 1031's with 8 inch speakers and I get plent of lows to mix with.


Farview, what's the reported freq. response for those monitors? (if you don't know on top of your head, don't worry about it, just curious and i couldn't find out from google)

I also read that smaller monitors work better in smaller environments. Given that my efficiency apartment is approx. 220 S.F., you think I'd be better off getting Rokit 5's instead of the 8's?
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Re: monitor Sub or just larger monitor speakers?

Postby MASSIVE Mastering » January 22nd, 2014, 11:01 am

I don't know the specs on the Gennie's, but I can tell you that they're on an entirely different level than 90% of the "monitors" out there... Driver size aside. And it still blows my mind that Genelec basically discontinued their best line of speakers ever.

[/Genelec rant]

Smaller speakers aren't "better" -- They're "less unacceptable" in unacceptable spaces. Treat the space properly and you can use almost anything you want.
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Re: monitor Sub or just larger monitor speakers?

Postby Farview » January 22nd, 2014, 5:30 pm

The Genelecs go down to 48hz according to the spec sheet. But they have softer highs than KRK speakers tend to, so they will seem beefier. Sometimes it's not a lack of low end response, but an overall brightness that is the issue.
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Re: monitor Sub or just larger monitor speakers?

Postby Ian » January 23rd, 2014, 9:35 pm

Quick questions.

I've read that the response times of larger woofer-speakers lags (8 " and up) and messes up the mix. Not that I've heard this, but it has been suggested by some that smaller speakers with ports is more desirable.

Contrarily, I've read that ports are bad. They bounce the bass around the room and off walls, making them difficult to tune to your room.

I know it's subjective, but do people like ports or no ports?

I listened to a pair of Adams 7. The highs and mids sounded fantastic. I still don't like Rhianna, but there were qualities to her voice in those speakers I'd not heard before. The problem is that the bass coming through the ports sounded too strong. I couldn't tell if it was the listening room at my local Guitar Center that sucked, or if the speakers just sound like someone left the bass-boost on.
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